Articles by Jan Larson McLaughlin

BG Councilman Daniel Gordon submits letter of resignation

Following is a letter submitted by Bowling Green Councilman Daniel Gordon this morning to the city administration: Dear Mayor Edwards, Members of Council, Administrator Tretter, Clerk Scherreik, and Attorney Marsh, I had intended to make this announcement at Monday’s Council meeting, but early that evening I had an asthma attack and ended up at the ER. As you know, I’ve been trying to work on improving my health, so I appreciate your patience. I hope you all had a good and productive session. Since our next meeting is three weeks away, I will not be able to make these remarks in person, so in writing will have to do. As some of you know, I recently purchased my original family home, which is outside of my district. My intent was to fix up the house and move into it following the end of my current term on Council. I have determined, however, that it is no longer financially feasible for me to afford that while continuing to reside at my current address. Consequently, I am stepping down from my seat now to expedite the process for Council to find a successor. I resign from my office as 1st Ward Representative for the City of Bowling Green effective immediately. It is my hope that Council will have enough time to replace me prior to our first meeting in November. I would be remiss if I left without reflecting on what an honor it has been to serve in elected office for nearly seven years. Most people in their twenties do not get to say that they helped govern a city, nor do even many of those who have get to say they did so in such tangible ways. Bowling Green is different now, and for the better, because I did my part, and you helped me do it. I want to thank each and every one of you, in addition to my thousands of constituents, for helping me learn what it means to be a true and effective leader. Though we did not always agree on the issues, I learned from that too. And I am grateful for the opportunities we had to work together as a team in service of the common good. City government is becoming more responsive to citizens and proactive about solving problems. Because of our teamwork, Bowling Green continues to make strides toward embracing its identity and culture as a welcoming, inclusive place that will not tolerate any form of discrimination. We have passed legislation recognizing as family some of our most vulnerable residents, including the Muslim and immigrant (documented and undocumented alike) communities. And we have strengthened our commitment to social justice by enshrining these values in our city charter as fundamental values of municipal governance. Not every community can say this. Our teamwork has also led to Bowling Green striving for greater economic equity. We moved from dismissing the housing and neighborhood concerns of Eastside residents to devising and implementing a strategic plan to address those problems. When that work concludes, when Eastside residents believe that their government has fought to stop and reverse the deteriorating housing conditions and neighborhood quality of life, we will have responded substantively to the core economic problem facing our city. This issue has been one of my major…


BG school board wants transparency with task forces

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The Bowling Green Board of Education made it clear Tuesday evening that the school task force discussions must remain public and that the board not be kept in the dark on the process. “The public nature of this process is absolutely necessary,” said board president Jill Carr. For those community members afraid to express their opinions publicly, the task force consultant  volunteered to be “Ground Zero” for their comments. After the first meetings of the financial and the facilities task forces, some members expressed concern that the information shared at those meetings was public. Some objected to updates being given to the board of education. The task forces have been set up to determine the best options for district school facilities. The recommendations will be presented to the board of education. The board has vowed to keep a hands-off approach with the task force process – however, the board wants updates so members have the same information as those in the task force meetings. “It’s essential that we remain informed,” Carr said. Carr expressed her appreciation for community members on the task forces, and voiced concern about the condition of the school buildings. “They are deteriorating right before our eyes,” she said. “Time and openness are of the essence.” Carr’s comments came after consultant David Conley reported to the board on the first financial task force meeting. He has posted the meeting on Facebook for public viewing. However, the team coordinating the facilities task force was unaware of the desire by some citizens to have meetings videotaped and reported to the board. Conley said he would make them aware. Board member Bill Clifford said the board supported the task force process with an understanding that updates would be reported to the board. “That was an expectation,” Clifford said. Conley said he has been impressed with the willingness of “courageous” task force members to share their thoughts at meetings. However, those who want their comments kept confidential can relay them to Conley privately, he said. “I’m really proud how we’ve engaged the community,” Conley said. The first financial task force meeting was attended by about 55 community members. Conley has also heard from about 10 senior citizens unable to make the meetings who don’t have internet connections. So he is trying to find a way to get the information to them. The next meeting of the financial task force will be Wednesday at 7 p.m., in the high school cafeteria. During that meeting, Conley said he will present answers to several questions raised at the previous meeting. “The goal is to make sure everyone in the community is informed and that they know the truth,” he said. The task force will talk about the makeup of the district – “who we are and where our money comes from,” he said. Conley reported to the board that the task force has covered information on the large geographic area of the district, plus some of the election history of the district. The history shows an “incredibly strong record of voter support” – except for the bond issues, he said. While most districts have a 33 percent passing rate for levy issues the first time around, Bowling Green’s rate is about 70 percent. “This is a community…


Community solar project takes another step forward

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The future just got a little brighter for the proposed community solar project in Bowling Green. On Monday, Bowling Green City Council had the first reading of an ordinance authorizing an easement and lease agreement for between the city and Wood County. Earlier this year, the Wood County Commissioners entered an agreement with the city to allow 50 acres of county land to be studied as a potential site for a solar field. The Wood County Board of Developmental Disabilities also agreed to allow 20 acres of its neighboring land to be part of the project. The 70 acres sit on the north side of East Gypsy Lane Road, between Interstate 75 and Wood Lane facilities. The property is currently leased for farming. Last week, the Bowling Green Board of Public Utilities approved the agreement now before council. The agreement is for a three-year lease option and does not commit the city to taking any action or spending any funds. Bowling Green Public Utilities Director Brian O’Connell explained that having the property under a lease option would allow the city to have more detailed discussions with solar developers. “This is meant to be a community project,” Daryl Stockburger, assistant director of Bowling Green Public Utilities, said during a meeting with the county commissioners earlier this year. “Everybody is talking about doing their best to make this succeed.” Both of those entities have already shown strong support for solar power, by backing the city’s solar field on Carter and Newton roads. That field, at 165 acres, is the largest solar field in Ohio. Bowling Green gets a portion of the power generated at that solar field – enough to supply nearly 5 percent of the city’s energy needs. This new project, on East Gypsy Lane, would be different in that it could be a community solar field, which means city residents and businesses could sign up to be a part of the project and get electricity from the kilowatts generated at the solar field, according to O’Connell. All of the energy created at the proposed site could be used to power Bowling Green. The community field could produce up to 10 megawatts, which is about half of the power generated at the Carter Road site. The panels would likely rotate with the sun during the day to maximize the energy generated. The “community solar” concept is a growing trend across the nation, according to O’Connell. Bowling Green residents and businesses could sign up to be part of the project – on a purely voluntary basis. Bowling Green officials have been looking for open space for more solar panels. “Peaking energy is important to us,” O’Connell said earlier this year. “We’re looking for new ways to do more solar. But finding large parcels of property close to the city is difficult.” Then the city found that big chunk of land right in its backyard – and close to its city electric service. “This would be an ideal location for this,” Stockburger said. The agreement with the county commissioners gives the city up to three years to determine if the East Gypsy Lane site is an economically sound location for a community solar field, Stockburger said earlier this year. “If the numbers all work out,…


What issues and candidates will be on your ballot?

For more than 60 years the League of Women Voters of Bowling Green has been providing information about candidates and issues to educate voters. This year citizens of Bowling Green will be voting on one state issue, two county issues, five Bowling Green City Charter changes and numerous statewide and county candidates. Each year the League of Women Voters of Bowling Green and the League of Women Voters of Ohio reach out to candidates who provide biographical information and answer questions prepared by the League. Each candidate is limited to a specific number of words and responses are printed without editing. All candidate and issue information can be found on the Bowling Green League website www.lwvbg.org. Several years ago a website www.judicialvotescount.org was created to help voters learn more about judicial candidates statewide as well as provide information about Ohio’s court system. Judicial Votes Count is a nonpartisan partnership of the Ohio Supreme Court, The Ohio Bar Association, Bliss Institute for Applied Politics at the University of Akron, Ohio Newspaper Association, Ohio Association of Broadcaster and the Ohio League of Women Voters Education Fund. Another resource for voters is VOTE411, a national website prepared by the League of Women Voters in each state. A voter can go to VOTE411.org and enter their address. The site will find the candidates for each state office as well as statewide issues that will appear on their individual ballot. Every candidate was given the opportunity to provide background information and answer 4-5 questions posed by the League. A voter can select two candidates and compare their answers to the same questions. The VOTE411website will be continually updated as responses to the questionnaire sent to the candidates are received by the League even if past the date for submission. The League of Women Voters of Bowling Green is a nonpartisan organization dedicated to encouraging active and informed participation of citizens in government.  The League does not endorse candidates for office.  The inclusion of candidate information is for the sole purpose of informing the public and does not imply League endorsement of any candidate or party.  The League does take positions on some issues but only after careful study.


BG council member questions Columbia Gas protocols

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   At least one Bowling Green City Council member is not ready to give Columbia Gas a pat on the back for agreeing to notify the city more promptly in case of an emergency. On Monday evening, Council member Greg Robinette complimented the local response by firefighters to a serious gas leak last month. But he referred to Columbia Gas’ response protocol as “negligent and reckless.” Gas company officials met with city officials and agreed to not wait so long to call the fire division in the case of another leak. But that gave Robinette little comfort. “I’m still quite concerned about Columbia Gas and their internal policies,” Robinette said. “Despite their assurances to do better, I don’t think we should give them a pass.” He referred to comments made by a Columbia Gas official after a leak that allowed natural gas levels to reach explosive levels in downtown Bowling Green. After the leak, Columbia Gas defended its response. Cheri Pastula, communications and community relations manager for Columbia Gas, said the gas crews followed proper procedures. The fire division was notified when the gas company knew the electricity needed to be shut off, she said. The fire division removed the electric meter from the buildings involved. “We have gas professionals that are experienced in emergency response and will notify first responders when necessary,” Pastula said. “All of our policies and procedures were followed appropriately and most importantly, safely.” Robinette called that statement an “outrageous admission” by Columbia Gas. He cited what he called a “disregard to the safety of residents.” City Council member John Zanfardino asked about the seriousness of the gas leak. “We were like a cigarette lighting away from blowing up a building,” he asked. Bowling Green Fire Chief Bill Moorman said the gas is “highly explosive” and had reached explosive levels. Moorman reported to City Council the results of a meeting that he and Public Works Director Brian Craft had with Columbia Gas officials days after the downtown leak. Moorman said he and Craft had a very frank conversation with them. “It was made very clear that would never happen again here in Bowling Green,” Moorman said. Columbia Gas officials agreed go beyond their policies and immediately notify Bowling Green Fire Division if gas leaks in the downtown construction area get close to dangerous levels again. On Sept. 13, a leak occurred in the downtown area of South Main Street, where Columbia Gas is replacing old natural gas lines. By the time the fire division was notified, the leaking gas had reached explosive levels, Moorman said. “They did not call us soon enough,” the fire chief said. Bowling Green Fire Division was not notified about the gas leak until at least two hours after gas odors were strong enough that some businesses shut down on the west side of the 100 block of South Main Street. Those businesses included Grounds for Thought, Lahey Appliance and Coyote Beads. When the fire division arrived downtown, the smell of natural gas was obvious. Atmospheric tests done by firefighters showed explosive levels of gas. “The gas levels were at a dangerous level,” Moorman said. “It was getting to the point that a spark, anything can really set it off. Pretty much anything ignites natural…


Councilman to hold Fourth Ward quarterly meeting

Bowling Green Fourth Ward City Council Member William Herald will hold his 35th Fourth Ward quarterly meeting on Thursday, Oct. 18, at the Simpson Garden Park building, 1291 Conneaut Ave., at 7 p.m. Herald will give a short update on council-related actions/issues including the four proposed city charter amendments on the November ballot, answer questions, and listen to input from citizens.  Residents from all of Bowling Green are welcome.


School task force hears report on buildings; some want meetings confidential

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   As the new Bowling Green City Schools facilities task force leaders toured the school buildings recently, they came upon a sign that seemed to fit the district’s situation. “I’m not telling you it’s going to be easy. I’m telling you it’s going to be worth it.” Nearly 60 community members met in the high school cafeteria last week for the first facilities task force meeting. They first addressed brick and mortar issues, and got an update on the condition of the school buildings. Then they touched on the “elephants in the room” that are affecting the future of the buildings. Two task forces are working on the school building issue – one looking at the facilities and the other at the finances. While both groups are working independently of each other, the financial task force will make its final decisions based on the goals set by the facilities task force. Once both task forces are done, recommendations will be made to the board of education of how the district should proceed. Those recommendations could range from doing nothing to the buildings, to renovating the existing buildings, to building new elementaries at their current sites, to consolidating the elementaries into one new building. The school administration and board are taking a hands-off approach to the task force process. They provide information when requested, but don’t attend meetings and don’t offer input. David Conley, who is facilitating the financial task force, provides live video via Facebook for those who can’t attend the meetings. The facilities task force did not videotape last week’s meeting. A member of the task force, Grant Chamberlain suggested that the meetings be kept “confidential” since items discussed at the meetings could be harmful to business owners. The facilities task force coordinators said they had originally planned to give school district officials updates on what was being discussed – not to get approval or input, but just to keep them up-to-date. Some members of the task force objected, and a decision will be made at the next meeting on Oct. 24, at 7 p.m., in the high school cafeteria. Leading the facilities task force are three members of Fanning Howey, a firm of architects, engineers, planners and former school administrators who specialize in school buildings. The firm has assisted more than 100 Ohio school districts, including Eastwood, North Baltimore and Northwood in Wood County. Three members of the firm are volunteering their time to work with the Bowling Green facilities task force – architects Steve Wilczynski and Dan Obrynba, plus former school superintendent Tim Hamilton. Prior to last week’s meeting, the team toured the district’s school buildings and reviewed the most recent report from the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission, which is the agency that establishes state funding rules. The team reported that Bowling Green’s ranking by the OFCC is not good – meaning no money is available now, and if it becomes available some day, it will pay for an estimated 17 percent of the project, if the buildings are designed to state specifics. “Your ranking is heading in the wrong direction,” Hamilton said, estimating there are 100 school districts in front of Bowling Green for funding. “There are a lot of districts ahead of you.” The task force coordinators reviewed…


More vehicle-deer crashes this time of year

November is the month with the highest number of vehicle-deer crashes in Wood County, followed by October and December which are second and third highest, according to Wood County Sheriff Mark Wasylyshyn. In 2017, the sheriff’s office handled 239 vehicle-deer crashes – with 53 of those being in November. To date this year, the office has handled 132 vehicle-deer crashes. The numbers above are only the crashes handled by the Wood County Sheriff’s Office and do not include crashes handled by other law enforcement agencies in the county. According to the Insurance Forum Institute, the average cost per insurance claim for collision damage is $2,800, with costs varying depending on the type of vehicle and severity of damage. The average rises to $10,000 when auto claims involving bodily injury are factored in. The following defensive tips were offered to help avoid hitting a deer: Be especially attentive from sunset to midnight and during the hours shortly before and after sunrise. These are the highest risk times for vehicle-deer collisions. Drive with caution when moving through deer-crossing zones, in areas known to have a large deer population and in areas where roads divide agricultural fields from forestland. Deer seldom run alone. When you see one deer, others are very likely to be nearby. When driving at night, use high beam headlights when there is no oncoming traffic. The high beams will better illuminate the eyes of deer on or near the roadway. Brake firmly when you notice a deer in or near youth path, stay in your lane. Many serious crashes occur when drivers swerve to avoid deer and hit another vehicle or lose control of their vehicles and go into a ditch or hit poles or trees. Always wear your safety belt. Many people injured in car-deer crashes were not wearing their seat belts. Do not rely on devices such as deer whistles, deer fence and reflectors to deter deer. These devices have not been proven to reduce vehicle-deer collisions. If your vehicle strikes a deer, do not touch the animal. A frightened and wounded deer can hurt you. The best procedure, if possible, is to get your vehicle off the road and call 911. Contact your insurance agent or company representative to report any damage to your vehicle. Collision with an animal is covered under the comprehensive portion of your auto insurance policy and does not go against your driving record.


NAMI offers event for kids affected by mental illness

(Submitted by National Alliance on Mental Illness) Want to be one of the cool kids? On Saturday, Oct. 20, from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Wood County will be hosting an event called KidShop. KidShop is a fun affair for adolescents affected by mental illness. The workshop teaches kids about mental illness, coping skills, and assists them to form friendships with peers that have lived through comparable experiences. The event will be hosted at the NAMI Wood County office at 541 W. Wooster St., Bowling Green. Parents can RSVP for their kids by calling 419-352-0626. Please note that everyone must be registered by Monday, Oct. 15. Children will be required to bring a paint shirt and should be dropped off at 9 a.m. to complete mandatory program forms. For more information, call (419) 352-0626, email info@namiwoodcounty.org, or visit NAMI’s Facebook page @namiwoodcounty.


Distracted driving – simulator teaches safety behind the wheel

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   With no warning, a car strays into the neighboring lane. “Is this not Bowling Green,” said Sandy Wiechman, Wood County Safe Communities coordinator. “You really have to pay attention.” The driver manages to avoid a collision, but seconds later, a dog runs into the street. She slams on the brakes, but it’s too late. “She just killed a dog,” Wiechman said. In this instance the dog and the driver are fine, since the crash occurred on Wood County Safe Communities’ distracted driving simulator. The simulator gives drivers an idea of the distractions out on the road, without the threat of injuries. The “driver” sits behind the steering wheel, with control of the wheel, the gas pedal and the brake. But there is much the driver has no control over. “You’ve got distractions all over the place,” Wiechman said. There’s a soccer ball that rolls out on the street, fire trucks approaching, construction cones, sun glaring into the windshield, school buses stopping, dogs and cats dashing into the road, pedestrians and bicyclists. And then there are the distractions inside the vehicle. There’s an annoying passenger who keeps asking the driver to make a call or text for him. In Wood County, about 4.5 percent of car crashes are blamed on driver distraction. In 2017, drivers reported the following distractions: Cell phone, 25; texting or emailing, 5; other electronic communication device, 7; electronic devices such as navigation devices, DVD player or radio, 39; others inside the vehicle, 99; and external distractions outside the vehicle, 84. Wiechman said the distractions go far beyond texting. Some people try eating lunch, check out the neighbor’s yard, or look to see if they know the bicyclist as they pass. “I refuse to do it just on texting. There are just so many things that can happen,” she said. “You never know when a kid is going to dart out into traffic,” Wiechman said. “One time can ruin your life and someone else’s life.” Even conversation in the car can be distracting. “You just have to pay 100 percent attention,” she said. It isn’t long before the “driver” is cut off by another car, swerves to avoid that vehicle and then hits an oncoming vehicle head-on. The simulator screen then gives the driver a view of the EMS crew standing over as an air ambulance lands nearby. The driving simulator is more important now, Wiechman said, since schools no long offer drivers education, and most students take driving classes online. “They think they are more in control than they really are,” she said. The simulator can also be used to show drivers the challenges of operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs. “It simulates drunk for you,” Wiechman said. After the motorist crosses into oncoming traffic, a police officer pulls the car over and asks for a driver’s license. Upon smelling alcohol in the car, the officer then asks the driver to exit the vehicle to do a field sobriety test. The driving simulator was purchased in 2017 with donations from the Bowling Green Dancing with the Stars event and from the Rossford Police Department. “We’ve been using it non-stop since,” Wiechman said. “This is just invaluable to me.” The simulator is usually used with students…


BG school board sets special and regular meetings

The Bowling Green Board of Education will hold a special meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 16, at 4:30 p.m. to consider the appointment, employment, dismissal, discipline, promotion, demotion, or compensation of a public employee in executive session. The meeting will be held at the Bowling Green Middle School Conference Room, 1079 Fairview Ave. The Bowling Green Board of Education will then hold its regular meeting at 6 p.m. The meeting will be held at the Bowling Green Middle School Library.


Manufacturers building excitement in BG students

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Decades ago, parents warned their children to get college degrees so they could avoid the dirty, repetitive work of manufacturing. That is no longer the case. “Our grandparents said, ‘Get your degree. Don’t go into manufacturing,’” said Lisa Wojtkowiak, senior talent learning and development manager at Betco. But on Friday, Wojtkowiak and other Bowling Green manufacturers were telling students just the opposite. “We make bubbles,” she said. “It’s not the old steel mills of the 1950s.” Bowling Green Middle School students got a glimpse of modern manufacturing Friday during the annual manufacturing day. The event included representatives from Vehtek, Rosenboom, Lubrizol, Betco, Regal, GKN, Phoenix and Penta Career Center. The students got to do learn about robots, virtual reality, heart dissections, density of liquids, helicopter designs and cleaning products. “This is to show our students what modern manufacturing looks like,” said Jodi Anderson, secondary curriculum coordinator for Bowling Green City Schools. “We want to spark their interest in manufacturing as a career option.” Today’s manufacturing uses robotics not back-breaking labor. “They may have had a grandparent who had a different experience with manufacturing,” Anderson said. The annual manufacturing day at Bowling Green City Schools was introduced a couple years ago, when local plants started having trouble finding skilled workers. “Manufacturers are in need of qualified workers,” Anderson said. The event allows local manufacturers to introduce themselves to students before they’ve already chosen a career path. “I think it’s important for manufacturers to introduce themselves to younger populations,” Wojtkowiak said. “The sooner we’re in their schools, the better.” College is no longer the only path to good-paying jobs, said Carol Espen, senior human resources manager with Regal. “I hope that they recognize manufacturing is an exciting industry” for jobs in areas such as engineering and finance, Espen said. At the Regal display, students were making modifications to paper helicopter designs, then testing them to see which stayed airborne longer. At the Lubrizol display, students learned about different liquid densities, by dropping items such as eggs, ping pong balls, bolts and dice into tap water and salt water. “We’re hoping they leave with a little bit of excitement about STEM,” science, technology, engineering and math, said Lubrizol plant manager Matt Paquette. Nearby at the Rosenboom display, students were putting together hydraulic cylinders. “They are learning how raw materials are turned into finished products,” said Sherry Hintz, head of Rosenboom human resources.”They are learning how to go into a real work environment.” That hands-on work struck a chord with seventh grader Bradley Palmer, who said he was interested in building hydraulics. “This is showing people about engineering in Bowling Green,” Palmer said. Another seventh grader, Lydia Mullins, was eyeing the robotics. “We’re learning about a different career instead of going to college,” Mullins said. “I love a lot of the tech things and being able to code the robots.”


Flu shots being encouraged earlier this year

Health officials are encouraging people to get the flu shot earlier this year so that it can become effective before influenza viruses are widespread. Most people can get a flu shot by scheduling an appointment with their health care provider or simply walking into their pharmacy. It takes about two weeks to develop antibodies that protect against flu, so make plans to get vaccinated before flu season begins. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that anyone 6 months of age or older get a flu vaccine by the end of October. Every flu season is different, but millions of people get the flu each year, while hundreds of thousands of people are hospitalized and thousands more die from flu-related causes. The flu vaccine does not cause influenza, which is a contagious respiratory illness that infects the nose, throat and lungs. Wood County Community Health Center offers the flu vaccine to established patients. To become a patient or for more information, call 419-354-9049 or visit WCHealthCenter.org Wood County Health Department provides flu immunization for children 18 or under whose health care providers do not offer vaccines. For more information, call 419-354-8402 ext. 3258. Frequent handwashing is one of the best ways to avoid acquiring or transmitting many illnesses, including influenza. Also make sure to disinfect surfaces at home and at work, cough and sneeze into your sleeve, and avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. The mission of Wood County Health Department is to prevent disease, promote healthy lifestyles and protect the health of everyone in Wood County. Our Community Health Center provides comprehensive medical services for men, women and children. We welcome all patients, including uninsured or underinsured clients, regardless of their ability to pay, and we accept most third-party insurance. For more information, visit WoodCountyHealth.org


Local Special Olympian honored for national medals

(Submitted by State Rep. Theresa Gavarone) State Rep. Theresa Gavarone and State Sen. Randy Gardner, both R-Bowling Green, presented resolutions this week to Special Olympics USA athlete Maggie Hunt, honoring and congratulating her for her medals at the 2018 games in Seattle. As a first-time USA games competitor, Hunt earned a bronze medal in the 100 meters, a gold in the 4×100 relay and a gold in the 400 meters. Hunt, a resident of Perrysburg, has participated in Special Olympics since she was 8 years old, and practices three times a week at the Bowling Green State University Rec Center. “Maggie is an inspiring individual and is really motivated to succeed whether it be on the track, in the swimming pool or at her job,” Gavarone said. “I am excited to see what she accomplishes next.” Hunt was selected after participating in qualifying state games at the Ohio State University and landing in the top three. In addition to practicing, she holds positions with the BGSU grounds crew and Carranor Hunt Club.


Connection Center offers hope to those facing mental illness

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   For almost two decades, the Connection Center in Bowling Green had provided a safe and welcoming place for people struggling with mental health issues. The only problem was that the space at 194 S. Main St. did not keep up with the growing needs. “We’ve needed this space for a long time,” said Tom Clemons, executive director of the Wood County Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services Board, which is the primary source of funding for the center. “I know the Connection Center has been very important in helping people recover,” Clemons said. “This is phenomenal.” Verna Mullins, the Connection Center manager, said the new expanded location promises many possibilities. “Our new facilities will give us a chance to grow” not only in the number of people served, but also in the programming offered, Mullins said. The primary goal of the center is to help people on their paths to recovery from mental health problems. “We will continue to do what we do best – provide hope,” Mullins said. On Thursday, the official ribbon cutting was held at the new Connection Center location at 309 S. Main St. The new location has almost double the space for adults receiving mental health services in Wood County. There’s room for more educational programs, like those on nutrition, exercise, and tips on how to beat the holiday blues. And there’s room for fun – as evidenced by the center’s schedule posted on a big calendar on the wall. There are plans for musical entertainment and a Halloween party. The center has a craft area, big TV, and plenty of comfortable seating. There are field trips planned to a pumpkin patch, alpaca farm, bowling, a cookout, the movie theater, a corn maze, apple orchard, and neighborhood strolls. “Whenever there was a holiday party, you couldn’t move,” John Fortner, director of Harbor mental health services in Wood County, said of the old space. The doubled space is expected to make a big difference for a lot of people. “It was really, really cramped in the other building,” said Julie Kershaw, psychosocial rehabilitation specialist at the center. “I think a lot more people will start coming.” Mary Hinkelman, new executive director of the Bowling Green Chamber of Commerce, said she was pleased to see the expansion – still in the downtown area. “This was a really big move for them,” she said. “We’re very excited for you.” Mayor Dick Edwards praised the renovation of the new space, which is located in front of Everyday People Cafe. “What an amazing transformation here,” he said. “I understand what you are trying to do – to make this more accessible to more people.” State Rep. Theresa Gavarone, R-Bowling Green, also praised the new site and the programs offered there. “What a tremendous facility connecting people to services,” she said. The Connection Center is open Mondays through Fridays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., with Tuesday having extended hours until 6:30 p.m. On Saturday the center will be open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.